Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Will Lingo

Arizona Diamondbacks Chat

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

Moderator: Will Lingo will chat about the Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Gary Lawson from Connersville, Indiana asks:
In your 2010 Projected Lineup, Carlos Gonzalez is not present, is he not the talent of the others or just simply they're not allowed to play 4 outfielders? What would be his projected Major League numbers? THANKS

Will Lingo: Welcome, everyone. Our prospect chats are winding down with the National League West, and I'm happy to be back after starting us off with the Orioles way back in the fall. We're always moving ahead here at BA, so I'm actually knee-deep in the Directory right now trying to get that out the door so you'll have it in your hands ASAP. I'm happy to take a break from independent league schedules (they're returning this year!) to talk D'Backs prospects.

Will Lingo: One more note before we jump in: I'll be in Phoenix on Feb. 24 at the team's fanfest, so you can come by there and we'll chat even more. I think farm directory A.J. Hinch and I will be talking prospects at some point during that day, but we'll give you more info as we get closer to the date.

Will Lingo: OK, we're just about ready to being the chat proper. Keeping Gonzalez out of the 2010 lineup was definitely a tough call. We felt you pretty much had to have Upton and Young in there, so it came down to Gonzalez and Carlos Quentin. We gave the nod to Quentin but there's really no wrong decision there. Gonzalez is a prototype right fielder, and I would expect he'll hit around .280 with good power. I guess the question that will determine his ultimate value is how much power that will be.

 Q:  Matt from Cary, NC asks:
Upton appears to be a question mark with regards to maximizing potential. If he does meet his potential, what MLBer can you compare him to... and if he doesn't?

Will Lingo: Well, the comparison we made in the prospect write-up was to Ken Griffey Jr., and that seems about right if everything goes well. He offers the total package of tools. If he doesn't meet his potential, well, you can look at our past Top 100 Prospects lists for the honor roll of guys with tools who didn't pan out.

Will Lingo: And in yet another side note, that's what we're going to be doing in our Top 100 Prospects feature this year: Look at the risk factors with different types of prospects, and compare players on this year's list with best-case and worst-case outcomes from the past. I think it'll be very interesting.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
Cyle Hankerd has to be one of the best hitting prospects not to make a top 10. Isn't he at least on par with Chris Marrero who was #2 on the Nats' list?

Will Lingo: I think you can look up and down the Diamondbacks' 11-20 prospects and find guys who could have fit into the top 10 lists of organization's with less talent. With the Nats in particular, you're talking about one organization we rate among the best in baseball for minor league talent, and another we rate among the worst. So it's definitely no slight against Hankerd's talent. He raked in his first pro summer, and if he can be merely adequate on defense in left field he'll be a nice player. As you can tell, the Diamondbacks' depth of outfielders is ridiculous.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
How high are the D'Backs' on Tony Pena as their future closer?

Will Lingo: I don't know that they're counting on it anytime right away, but he definitely took to the bullpen role and has the power fastball and slider that would suggest he'll get a shot at closing at some point. For now hope he comes to spring training with no visa issues and gets in a solid year as a set-up guy.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
What's your gut feeling on Mark Reynolds? Does he carry over his offensive surge in to 2007, or does he regress?

Will Lingo: Doubling up on questions from Dan: I think Mark Reynolds is a legit hitter who finally put together a healthy year and a good approach at the plate to tap into his hitting ability and power. At the same time, I think it would only be natural for his numbers to drop off a bit this year because he's leaving Lancaster. He did hit eight home runs in 30 games in the Southern League, though, so it won't be a precipitous drop.

 Q:  Kevin from Surprise, AZ asks:
If all of the OF's develop, who's the odd man out? I know their ETA's are staggered, but eventually Upton, Gonzalez, Young, and Quentin will all be there. With Jackson at 1B, you can't move one of them there. Good problem to have...who would you move?

Will Lingo: I think the moves will be dictated by how the players progress in the next couple of years and which ones teams ask for as much as anything. Assuming they develop as expected, I would think Upton and Young would be the closest to untouchable because they have the best all-around packages of tools. No surprise given we ranked them 1-2. As you say, it's a great problem to have. But I wouldn't discount the possibility you move Jackson and slide one of the outfielders in there either.

 Q:  steve from tulsa,ok asks:
How fast do you see Brett Anderson moving up? Could he be the first high schooler out of this class to make it to the Big Leagues?

Will Lingo: I'm anxious to see how Anderson performs in his pro debut this year. He's as polished as any high schooler, so by that reasoning he could move quickly. But he fell in the draft because of his body and lack of athleticism, so we'll see if that proves to be a liability in pro ball. The Diamondbacks are excited about his potential.

 Q:  Hugh from Tempe, AZ asks:
Did Josh Byrnes give up too much pitching in the UnitLivan Hernandez deals? Would any of Ohlendorf, Steven Jackson, Matt Chico or Garrett Mock have been on the top ten? Any chance we'll regret giving up one of those young arms early a la John Patterson or Brad Penny? Thanks.

Will Lingo: I would focus more on the Johnson deal than the Livan deal, which I thought was a fine one for Arizona. On a pure prospect talent level, I thought the Diamondbacks did give up too much to get Johnson from the Yankees. At the same time, though, I understand why they did it, to provide more stability to the rotation and to build credibility with the fans--especially the casual fans, who unlike you guys might not realize how much talent is percolating in the farm system. I don't think Arizona gave up any cornerstones in either of these deals. Alberto Gonzalez was a nice player who ranked No. 13 on our D'backs list before the trade, and Ohlendorf was No. 10, so they're the best players who were lost. But Arizona has plenty of depth to survive the loss.

 Q:  Scott from Scottsdale, AZ asks:
Who is patrolling CF for the Dbacks in 4 years? Young with Upton in RF?

Will Lingo: You'd have to go with Young just because he's a purer center fielder, while Upton is still learning the nuances of playing in the outfield. I think Upton can basically slot in wherever he's needed, and it will depend on who else is in the picture. He has the tools to play anywhere. We did put him in right in our 2010 lineup.

 Q:  Jaypers from IL asks:
Any progress whatsoever in signing Scherzer? What's been the main reason for the delay? Is it by any chance a 5-letter word starting with the letter "B"? (It's delays such as these which give me a great sense of anticipation for the new August 15th signing deadline starting this June.)

Will Lingo: We have heard of no progress in Scherzer's signing, though the usual pressure points are the spring (getting in camp in time to break with a club) or right before the draft (before going back into the draft pool). It's obvious that the delay is a factor of Scott Boras being his adviser, and it's a road the Diamondbacks have been down before with Drew (also a Boras client) and Upton (not a Boras client), who signed months after being drafted. It has worked for them, so I would expect Scherzer to sign eventually. It will be nice to see this whole process go by the wayside with the new draft rules.

 Q:  Bill from Tempe, AZ asks:
Greg Smith put up great numbers in the minor league's worst ballpark for pitchers, yet he's not regarded as a premier prospect. What's his upside?

Will Lingo: He's No. 13 (15 in the book before the departure of two guys ahead of him) in one of the most talented organizations in the game, so he's no slouch. Smith actually went 9-0, 1.63 with Lancaster, so his performance there was impressive. He doesn't get more attention because he's your classic finesse lefty who doesn't blow anybody away. His fastball touches 90 and his curveball and changeup are nice pitches, but his biggest strength is his feel for pitching and for setting up hitters. So you look for him to be a middle of the rotation guy at best.

 Q:  Mike from Tampa asks:
Personally, I couldn't believe that you had Callaspo at 24 in your top 50... he's a good prospect and all but 24? I simply can't see that.

Will Lingo: Yeah, that was too high, and you won't see him near that high on our top 100. But he is a guy who I think doesn't get enough love, and aside from his tools and amazing plate coverage, don't underestimate the value of the energy he brings to the lineup every day. On a great team at Tucson (our Minor League Team of the Year), he was the one everyone pointed to as the catalyst.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Will, what are your thoughts on Ciriaco and Bonafacio. How do they compare with Callaspo? Where would Alberto Gonzalez have ranked if he hadn't been traded?

Will Lingo: Before the trade, they lined up Callaspo (No. 4), Bonifacio (No. 12), Gonzalez (No. 13), Ciriaco (No. 25). Bonifacio is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale who stole 61 bases last year, and more importantly he hit .321 last year. He'll have to prove that wasn't a Lancaster mirage this year. Ciriaco has speed, a great arm and bat speed, but he's still figuring out how to pull it all together. He may go back to low Class A this year to have some success. Callaspo is the best hitter, Bonifacio is the fastest, and Ciriaco is the rawest.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Do you think there's any chance that Jason Neighborgall can gain some sense of command to be somewhat effective? I know it's too early to give up on an arm like his, but it's hard to be a little cautious with his numbers.

Will Lingo: I think at this point you shouldn't count on anything from Neighborgall. The Diamondbacks have seen positive signs from him, but until he puts together a stretch of success it's hard to predict any kind of contribution from a player who's obviously gifted. I remember one Diamondbacks official saying, "If he throws strikes..." but that's a really big if.

 Q:  Jamie from Olney, MD asks:
Have you heard anything on Matt Torra's progress following the labrum surgery? I know he came back and pitched a few effective innings last year. Knowing that labrums are tricky business, what chances do you give him of recovering his pre-surgery abilities?

Will Lingo: Shoulder injuries for pitchers are always scary. Torra did pitch 25 innings in South Bend last summer, as well as instructional league. He didn't look good, but the point was for him to get back in action. I think what the Diamondbacks would like to see this spring is Torra simply trusting that his arm is sound and working all-out again. We'll see.

 Q:  Dave (Tucson) from asks:
With the graduations of Drew, Quentin and Conor Jackson, where does Arizona's farm system rank?

Will Lingo: You guys are keeping the chat queue full, but I'm going to have to go in a bit. We'll see if we can't blow through a few more questions before then.

Will Lingo: Even with losing some great players off last year's list, the Diamondbacks will still rank among the top three or four systems in minor league talent when our official rankings come out in about a month.

 Q:  Phil K from Asheville, NC asks:
with the way Danny Richar performed at AA this year, could he possibly be there 2nd basemen of the future?

Will Lingo: Richar had a nice year, but in an organization loaded with talent it's going to be hard for him to find a place to play. He's a solid second baseman, but the organization has several guys ahead of him with better tools. So I see him as a utility player for the Diamondbacks, or more likely a commodity to use in a trade.

 Q:  Kc Brian from Scottsdale AZ asks:
I sure you will be fielding this question in excess today but I'm gong to ask it anyway. If Max Scherzer had signed before you did the list where would he fall.

Will Lingo: Should have put that in my earlier Scherzer response. He would have ranked No. 6 on the prospect list, behind Montero and ahead of Micah Owings.

 Q:  Travis from PHX asks:
Could Gerardo Parra be the biggest mover on this list a year from now?

Will Lingo: Arizona has a lot of guys just beyond the top 10 who could jump into the list next year. Parra is another interesting outfielder signed out of Venezuela, and he has earned comparisons to Carlos Gonzalez, with one scout saying he's further along than Gonzalez at the same stage. The nice thing about having a talented organization is that a really intriguing guy like Parra has plenty of time to develop and doesn't have to be overhyped coming out of the Pioneer League.

 Q:  Tyler from Irvine, CA asks:
I can't believe Chris Carter didn't crack the top ten! He's obviously the next Frank Thomas; what does he have to do in 07 to crack the list?

Will Lingo: Carter is a nice hitter, but he's a below-average defender who will have to work hard to be adequate at first base. Again, with so much talent ahead of him, Carter might best be used as a lefthanded bat off the bench or in a trade to an American League organization.

 Q:  Chris from Lewisburg PA asks:
Hey Will, I was just wondering if you felt that any of the college arms that the Dbacks took in this past draft will make an impact in the organization, as the only arm I had much knowledge of did not sign, in Scherzer.

Will Lingo: Brooks Brown out of Georgia is in the top 30 and bears watching, as do Hector Ambriz and Dallas Buck, provided he's healthy.

 Q:  Peter Marcus from New York asks:
What is Micah Owing's future status? Is he a frontline or back of the rotation starter or a future closer?

Will Lingo: I see Owings as an ideal middle of the rotation starter who will eat innings.

 Q:  Jeff from Greeley, CO asks:
I've heard Pedro Ciriaco is an amazing defender. Did his bat keep him out of the top 10?

Will Lingo: Lot of Pedro Ciriaco interest today. He has great defensive tools, but he led the minor leagues with 45 errors last season so he has a lot of work to do. He made 34 in a half-season in the Pioneer League the year before. He's also working on his approach at the plate.

 Q:  Mudcatsfan from Heart of the Triangle, North Carolina asks:
Is there a better place to live for catching up with prospects?

Will Lingo: Well, we are lucky to be here. It truly is the goodliest land for prospects under the cope of heaven. And we're just 58 days away from minor league Opening Day.

Will Lingo: All right, I'm sorry but I've got to go make sure the Frontier League is ready for the Directory. Did you know they have a team in Slippery Rock this year? Thanks for all the questions, and I look forward to meeting some of you in Phoenix next weekend.